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10th District legislators gave update at Town Hall Saturday

Some 75 people came out Saturday morning for the 10th Legislative District Town Hall meeting at the WSU Northwest Research and Extension Center, amidst filling the large meeting room.

The district’s three state legislators, Sen. Ron Muzzall (R-Oak Harbor) and Reps. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) and Dave Paul (D-Oak Harbor) displayed their ability to get along during the 45 minute question and answer session, when they responded to a wide range of questions constituents wrote out on cards. Stanwood Mayor Leonard Kelly, as emcee, grouped and read the submitted questions.

This is a Washington legislative rarity: a district represented by both political parties, with the legislators amicable with each other.

On helping the mentally ill and homeless Muzzall shared his philosophy of getting funds to local government’s closest to the problem as the way “to improve local solutions to local problems.”

Smith said new investments are being made in sheltering and that “there will be new dollars in that space.”

Paul finds an “increased understanding” in the House that addiction has to be addressed with behavioral and mental health and wants assistance for people leaving prison.

On carbon pollution and fuel standards, Paul took the long view, predicting “we will not be off carbon in our lifetime,” saying he supports low carbon fuel standards, that 45% of carbon is emitted by vehicles and reducing carbon pollution needs to advance now.

Smith said she voted against the fuel standards bill, concerned it places an artificial boundary around the state.

Muzzall criticized creating artificial standards that will drive up fuel prices by fifty cents a gallon and make lives more difficult. He called for local solutions, that “we can all have an impact.”

Regarding legislation on limiting gun magazine capacity, Muzzall called for addressing all forms of violence, including knives and clubs. Smith said she works hard to defend the Second Amendment. Paul predicted a ballot initiative calling for limiting size to 10 rounds will happen since the legislature could not accept the 15 round limit.

For banning single use plastic bags, Muzzall asserted that bag use is dropping, that people want to have plastic bags to reuse them, that paper bags will be taxed, creating revenue, and that alcohol prohibition didn’t work, either. Smith said we can’t leave waste for the next generation. Paul called it good legislation supported by the business community, which doesn’t want a variety of municipal bans.

In opening remarks Muzzall introduced himself. He was appointed in October after Sen. Barbara Bailey retired and resigned. He is a fourth generation Oak Harbor farmer with significant experience serving on community and corporate boards. He said he was willing to discuss anything with anybody and shared his perspective the “government too often makes mistakes by acting too quickly.”

Smith reflected on the 2019 session. Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a historic, desperately needed $300 million safety net of behavioral and mental health legislation she said and “that story matters.”

Paul recounted the three bills he sponsored were all based on his listening to constituents, were related to veteran education benefits and all passed unanimously.

Constituents stayed for over 30 minutes of one-on-one time with the legislators after closing remarks.

The three held an afternoon town hall in Oak Harbor.


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